Wilsons to close most of its mall stores, cut 1,000 jobs

From the Associated Press

Wilsons the Leather Experts Inc. will close the majority of its 260 mall locations and cut more than 1,000 jobs, the clothing retailer said Friday.

Wilsons will keep 100 stores open, revamping them under a "Studio" concept focused on fashion accessories for women. All stores should be remodeled by August.

About 938 store-related jobs and 64 positions at the company's corporate headquarters, overseas offices and distribution center in Brooklyn Park, Minn., will be cut.

Wilsons' 120 outlet stores will not be affected.

"We expect the cost-reduction initiative will enable us to reduce our working capital needs and strengthen our business, as well as provide capital for our remodel efforts to convert all remaining mall stores into our new 'Studio' concept," Chief Executive Mike Searles said.

After months of declining sales, Wilsons reported a 10% spike in same-store sales in January, but mostly through clearance sales.

It is the latest retailer to aggressively shutter stores.

In January, AnnTaylor said it was closing 117 stores and cutting 180 jobs. On the same day, Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc. said it was eliminating 123 jobs.

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